NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio's long-delayed plans to ban the city's horse carriages are finally moving forward with a bill that phases out the industry by 2016 and dangles a carrot for the soon-to-be unemployed drivers: a career driving a taxi.
That measure was set to be introduced at a City Council meeting next week but it already drew fierce opposition from the 400 drivers and stable hands who say it was an insult to suggest they could be satisfied with another way of life.
"We want to stay in business, and the horse is our business, " said Christina Hansen, a carriage horse driver who claimed de Blasio is ill-informed on the issue. "The mayor still hasn't been to the stables."
During his bid for mayor a year ago, de Blasio repeatedly told supporters that "on Day One" he would end what he saw as the inhumane practice of the colorful coaches clip-clopping their way through Central Park and the surrounding streets.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the bill being drafted with the mayor's support would likely be voted on early next year, and de Blasio said he would not favor further delays.
"We think it's time to end horse carriages in this city," he said.